With an increasing focus on how the a pandemic will continue to ebb away at the economy, panelists with a diverse area of expertise spoke at the Conference on World Affairs over a streamed Zoom session Tuesday about the economic impact of COVID-19.
More than 1,500 combined viewers watched Rebecca Fannin, Jon Haveman, Trine Tsouderos and Richard Wobbekind discuss their concerns for the future, what needs to be done to combat COVID-19 and the aggressive importance of flattening the curve. Martin Boileau, economics professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, moderated the event.
Many of the panelists were surprised to agree with one another, all expressing how spending massive amounts of money was necessary to save lives.
“It’s going to buy us time that we desperately need,” Executive Director of the National Economic Education Delegation Haveman said.
Wobbekind, associate dean and senior economist at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, also spoke to the importance of spending enough money on the right things. He said that the United States has been in a trillion-dollar deficit before, and there will be ways to address that after the crisis is no longer immediate.
“We can’t afford not to do this right now, it has to be done,” Wobbekind said.
Rebecca Fannin, one of the first American journalists to write about China’s entrepreneurial boom, compared how obedient civilians were being in response to stay at home orders between countries. She emphasized the need to stay home.
“You know, in China, your neighbors were watching out,” Fannin said. “If you went out and violated that two-week quarantine, you’re going to get told on.”
Moderator Boileau jumped in to mention his disappointment in those that were still enjoying vacations.
“I was really disheartened seeing all these spring breakers on beaches while people are dying New York City,” Boileau said.
Comparisons to China was a consistent theme throughout the session, speculating on whether or not the country was going to be able to efficiently go back to a normal life.
“They are going back to work and they are coming out of it. China was the first into it, and so maybe they are first out of it as well. Whether it is too early or not, we will see,” said Fannin.
Trine Tsouderos, director at global professional firm network PwC’s Health Research Institute, addressed how health facilities around the world do not have sufficient materials. Calling it the Achilles’ heel of the pandemic, Tsouderos worried that these facilities would not be able to fix the supply chain issue.
“You have tests rolled out, but then you’re missing swabs. You have swabs, but you are missing a reagent,” Tsouderos said. “You have the reagent now, but you are missing another part of the test kit.”
“If we don’t flatten the curve, we will be miles above our health care capacity,” Haveman said, emphasizing Tsouderos’ point of fixing the supply chain issue.
Fannin added that it is important to notice the ventilators and other resources China has donated to the United States in response to this problem.
“We need to recognize China and their outreach to the U.S. in helping us fight the coronavirus… I think they deserve credit for doing that,” Fannin said.
When asked directly, panelists responded positively to whether or not they were happy with efforts that have been made so far. Others found upsides in the pandemic.
“A lot of times in these downturns you see positive things happening (and) like us here on Zoom, new innovations coming,” Fannin said.
Ending with a positive spin, moderator Boileau mentioned what we can take out of this pandemic.
“I think, actually, in times of crisis, that’s where most human ingenuity starts,” Boileau said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Dawson Drew at firstname.lastname@example.org.